On This Day: Bill Monroe Is Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997

by Clayton Edwards
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Bill Monroe may seem like a strange choice for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He didn’t even like rock and roll. History remembers Monroe as the Father of Bluegrass and for good reason. He and his Bluegrass Boys codified the genre. They have influenced countless country music and bluegrass artists over the years. Just listen to a couple of their records and you’ll begin to understand how much Monroe and his various cohorts changed music. The band’s sound still echos throughout the world today. At the same time, Monroe’s songwriting helped to form future songsmiths. He is another one of those people who was instrumental in the formation of modern country music as well as the genre he helped to define.

However, Bill Monroe’s influence doesn’t stop there. Some of the biggest and most important people in early rock music count the Father of Bluegrass among their major influences. This is why he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the “Early Influence,” category.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Bill Monroe on this day in 1997. Emmylou Harris and Ricky Skaggs handled the induction ceremony, according to the official Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website. However, it was a posthumous induction. Monroe passed away in 1996, just four days shy of his 85th birthday.

Why Is Bill Monroe in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Every great tower starts with a solid foundation. Bill Monroe served as a portion of the foundation of rock and roll. Elvis Presley loved Monroe’s music. In fact, he covered Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” He wasn’t the only early rocker who dug bluegrass.

Carl Perkins was a friend of Elvis Presley. He was the man who originally cut “Blue Suede Shoes,” and made it a hit. Presley later covered that song as a tribute to Perkins. He even held off his release so as not to interrupt Perkins’ chart success with the song. In one of their earliest conversations, they talked about Bill Monroe.

Carl Perkins drew heavily from the driving rhythm of bluegrass music. He first heard Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys at a young age. Perkins heard in them the rhythm that he wanted but couldn’t yet perfect. Listening to those broadcasts helped him shape his sound according to The Bluegrass Special.

So, the Father of Bluegrass influenced both the King of Rock and Roll and the King of Rockabilly. Those two men went on to shape rock and roll much like Bill Monroe shaped bluegrass and country music. That’s how a man who never played a note of rock and roll and even openly disliked the genre ended up in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Bill Monroe earned several accolades before he passed away. Monroe was a Kentucky Colonel. He was a member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Monroe was also one of the first to be inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. His other accolades include the National Medal of Arts and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

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